An important aspect of any custom home building project is the design process. The role of the designer may not be well understood and many clients who are starting out on their project may have questions about the role of the designer.
To give some insight into the design function we decided to just ask Roman, our senior designer at Normerica.
What is your role on a custom home building project?
Essentially, what I do is take the client’s vision of the building and turn it into what the vision could look like. I work with the client to understand his/her needs, create living space within the building shape they like and explain what can and cannot work, both structurally and aesthetically.
What are the three things you should know about your custom home designer?
A client should look for the following traits in the designer:
1. Listening. Does he listen to me when I explain what I want in the project? A good designer will take you through the process by working with you, not dictating what the design will look like.
2. Patience and understanding.A building project is one of the most important undertakings that you will be involved with in your lifetime. A good designer will understand your anxieties, doubts and take you through the process at your pace, explaining options as you go.
3. Design what you like, not what he likes. Some designers like to design buildings that while beautiful, may not meet the needs of the client from a lifestyle, family and economical point of view. A good designer and the resultant design will completely reflect your needs, wants and likes.
I have an architect for my project. Do designers work with architects and what are the challenges?
A good custom designer can usually collaborate effectively with an architect on a project. Architects and designers usually bring different strengths and skills to the table and if they work as a team, the result can be spectacular.
With some styles of building, a designer may not be necessary but in other styles, such as timber frame and log homes, a designer needs to be involved to ensure that the building is structurally sound and shows off to the fullest extent the look that the client is trying to achieve. To make sure your team works effectively, tell your architect and your custom home designer to “check your ego at the door”.
Is taking advantage of a view really important to the client?
How long should it take to design a custom home?
Answer: As much time as you need to be completely satisfied with the finished design.
This is a huge undertaking and you need to be happy with the final result. This is your dream home or cottage and the final result needs to reflect everything you want from your project. You need to take your time but be aware that time is money so you need to balance the time while making judicious and timely decisions. A good custom home builder will tell you how much to budget for design and related time and expenses and will stick to that budget and keep you advised of where you are in the process.
Roman, what are some of the things you consider when designing a custom home?
- Does this design incorporate the sense of proportion, balance and symmetry that we are trying to achieve?
- Does this design fit on the building lot from a site and orientation perspective (optimize sunlight, water or mountain views, etc.)
- Does this design meet the client’s needs, wants and likes based on an assessment of their sense of style, tastes, personality, etc.?
- Are the clients fully engaged in this process?
- Will this design look great and still meet the client’s financial expectations?
An example of a cottage design customized to fit into the site. For a live example of how one island cottage is being custom designed for the view, check out Part I of Building A Custom Cottage.
In future posts, Roman will expand on some of his ideas of what is important in custom home and cottage designs. Some of his ideas may surprise you!
Normerica is a custom home builder creating authentic timber frame homes for local & export markets since 1979 from its home office in Ontario. Explore over 50 award-winning cottage & custom home plans online right now and sign-up for access to hundreds more.
Since 1979, Normerica has created the highest quality timber frame homes and buildings across North America and around the world. Our decades of timber frame experience and expert in-house design capabilities have given us the ability to offer a high level of customization and design flexibility – a key advantage of timber frame homes and post and beam construction.
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